Kartemquin goes to the Oscars

The Sung family, New York

The Sung family, New York

Kartemquin Films is headed to the Oscars!

Two films by the internationally renowned documentary collaborative have been nominated for the coveted gold statues by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

One is the story of a family’s struggle to overcome seemingly insurmountable and unfair obstacles.

The other, a short film about an elderly couple whose love is “disrupted by a family feud that threatens to tear the couple apart,” according to IMDb.

Here’s a snapshot of each.

“Abacus: Small Enough to Jail”

Abacus, directed by Steve James, is a nominee for Best Documentary Feature. The film tells the incredible saga of the Chinese immigrant Sung family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, New York.

Accused of mortgage fraud by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Abacus becomes the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The indictment and subsequent trial forces the Sung family to defend themselves — and their bank’s legacy in the Chinatown community — over the course of a five-year legal battle.

To date, the film has received awards and nominations from several organizations including the Directors Guild of America, the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards, the Cleveland International Film Festival, the Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, the Chlotrudis Awards, and the Cinema Eye Honors Awards.



Critical praise for “Abacus”

“A heartfelt portrait of a close-knit family facing overwhelming adversity and an infuriating indictment of our U.S. justice system gone seriously awry.”
    — Lauren Wissot, Filmmaker Magazine

“The craft on display in Steve James’s new film Abacus: Small Enough to Jail is so sturdy and comforting that the experience of watching it almost feels like a hug. Steve James is a filmmaker who seemingly never loses sight of where he is, and what’s important to film. Whether it’s Chicago, Hampton, Huntsville, Pomona, or, now, Chinatown, he’s firmly in place. While watching his films, we are too.”
    — Jeff Reichert, Reverse Shot

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“Edith + Eddie”

Edith+Eddie, directed by Laura Checkoway, is a nominee for Best Documentary (Short Subject). The film covers a chapter in the lives of the main characters, Edith and Eddie, who are also America’s oldest interracial newlyweds.

Described by one reviewer as something of a modern-day Romeo and Juliette, Edith and Eddie deal with an unexpected lifestyle compication that, according to The Wrap’s William Bibbiani, “offers harrowing illuminations of terrible injustice.”

Along the way, they offer an incomparable testament to the power of love.

The film has earned awards and honors from a number of organizations including the Directors Guild of America, the International Documentary Association, the Virginia Film Festival, and the Rhode Island International Film Festival.



Critical praise for “Edith+Eddie”

“Gives a new meaning to the phrase ‘a love story for the ages’… Director Laura Checkoway captures both the sweet and tragic moments with empathy and heart.”
    — Kiko Martinez, San Antonio Current

“A moving portrait … It’s the most intimate movie in the lineup, and all the better for it.”
    — Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times

“EDITH+EDDIE at first seems just a warm-hearted story, but the situation gets more complicated and tragic… Checkoway vividly shows the power and depth of their love.”
    — Peter Keough, The Boston Globe

“[Checkoway’s] heartrending and delicate story is about how the aged, and particularly those suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, are ignored in decisions that affect their own quality of life.”
    — Richard Whittaker, The Austin Chronicle

“A terrific documentary… After you watch this it’s like – wait a minute, I have to call my mother and grandmother more often than I do today. It’s the first thing you end up feeling.”
    — Chuck Todd, Meet the Press